Thursday, 26 May 2016

Timbo gets a quality haircut

I’ve been going to Duke Street Barbers in Reading for about eight years now.  Prior to that, a ladies’ hairdresser called Diane had come to the house every six weeks, done Viv’s hair and thrown in a trim for me, but once that couldn’t be sustained I took a friend’s recommendation and ended up at Duke Street.

It’s definitely a gent’s barber’s shop:  it says, or at least implies, as much on the signboard outside the door, which even sports the once traditional red-and-white barber’s pole (which is, as I’m sure you know, a relic from the days when barbers were also surgeons, and so bandaged wounded limbs, evidently not very efficiently).  It has eight chairs and, as far as I can tell, up to four barbers.  There are a couple of long-termers, but apart from them the staff turnover is high.  I’ve had my hair cut by lots of charming barbers, male and female – the unisex rule applies only to the clientele, not the operatives – but rarely the same one more than twice.

So I wasn’t surprised to find a new guy bouncing out of the back room when I called in the other day for my usual light scissor trim.  (I learned a few years ago that this was what to order, having disastrously experimented with the various grades of razor cut – they run from one (bald) to eight (nearly bald).)  He greeted me effusively, which usually puts me off, as making small talk whilst being gently tortured doesn’t come naturally to me.  But this guy disarmed me straight away by telling me how much hair I had, and by implication how much he was looking forward to sculpting it.  I alluded to the cranial bald patch, and he pointed out that I’m fairly tall, so people won’t usually notice it.  I thought it best not to argue the point.

He was a damn good haircutter (I’ve been complimented on the job he did) but also a very engaging conversationalist.  He’d spent some time in Spain before coming to England, loved it, learnt the language, had I ever been to Spain?  Given another twenty minutes, I like to think he’d have invited me to accompany him on a holiday to Marbella, but that wasn’t to be.  Turned out he was originally from Morocco.  We need more immigrants like him.

The best bit was when the chat turned back to my luxuriant rug.  I don’t understand why blokes who have a good healthy crop choose to reap it all off with a number one.  “They think it makes them look hard,” my friend said.  “They’re right, it does,” I replied.  “Yes,” he said.  “But it doesn’t make them hard.”



Tuesday, 10 May 2016

This Brexit thingie

This blog doesn’t do politics, except when it does.  This is one of those occasions. 

I may as well use the tried and tested WWWWW formula.

What?  Answer: Nobody Knows Anything.  (© the great William Goldman.)  Predictions of the economic impact of Brexit are so wildly variant as to render them about as useful as that bus you are, or are not, about to walk under.  (Oh, and it seems our French friends have scuppered TTIP, so that card’s no longer on the table.)

Why?  The Daily Mail, of all media, has posed this very interesting question.  If Cameron is so worried about the outcome, why did he call the referendum in the first place?  Don’t hold out for an answer.

Where?  The Brexit camp is rather vociferous about our potential trading links with, let’s see: China; South America; India …  Rather less so about Russia, Saudi Arabia, North Korea.  And presumably they’re a bit equivocal about the USA at the moment.

Who?  Z has waxed eloquent elsewhere, so I’ll just list her three Premier League names: George Galloway; Marine le Pen; Donald Trump.  And add a few second-rankers: Boris, IDS, Govey… I could go on.  They’ve even tried to rope in the Queen.  But give me a list of Remainers (apart from those under orders, obviously)?  David Attenborough isn’t enough.  Mobilisation is called for.  Where are Ant and Dec when we need them?    

When?  That’s a tricky one.  Will the Turkish and Armenian  hordes overwhelm us?  Or will the Empire rise again in Hope and Glory?  Before the next general election?  O will we just muddle on, as usual?  We are British, after all.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


This is the last in a miniseries. 

Tortoises are demanding animate boulders.  That’s all I really have to say on the subject, but this is a blog post not a facebook quip, so I’ll have to expound.

Let’s take boulders first.  Basically, they don’t move (but see animate below).  You can watch one for hours before it proves it’s alive by sticking its head out to see if there’s anything green within reach.  If there is, it’ll eat it; if not, it’ll stick its head back in and revert to boulderdome.  If you catch one in the act, feel honoured.  It’s almost interesting.

As I hinted though, they can be animate, in the sense of actually moving.  When this mood takes them, they can be surprisingly sprightly.  We caught the older one halfway across the lawn a few weeks ago, it having somehow scaled a brick barricade five times its height and sprinted the equivalent of two or three of our miles, before pausing for whatever is the tortoise version of breath and looking around for something acceptably green to eat, the basic lawn grass of course not fitting its strict dietary regime.

Which brings me to demanding.  I mustn’t say too much under this heading, because after all, once you’ve taken responsibility you have to discharge it, don’t you?  But really.  Who needs three custom-built palaces?  Especially ones you spend most of your energy trying to break out of?